Sesame Literary Club Presentation

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of giving a presentation to our local literary club. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And, I was happy to sign and sell some copies of my book.

For my presentation, I started by discussing how a story is basically three elements – characters (someone), plot (doing something) and setting (some where). I chose to speak on the importance of details in historical fiction and how these are necessary to create authenticity for both the physical setting and the time period. I gave examples of the research that I did for Josephine: Red Dirt and Whiskey and discussed the various categories research falls into, such as housing, commerce, community, gender roles, daily living, entertainment. Josephine takes place in rural northeast Texas during the Great Depression.

While I was preparing an outline for the presentation, I thought about how I naturally do this for each novel. I did the same thing for the NaNoWriMo novel – Nelson and Cora – the Beginning. This novel takes place in Kentucky in 1866. In addition to the categories I researched for Josephine, I added diseases and medical treatment for the Civil War.

I want my readers to trust me. The last thing I want to have happen is for my reader to lose interest or be distracted by something that doesn’t fit (wrong model of car, wrong dress, etc.). But, I also don’t want to write a history book.

The goal is to do the research, integrate it seamlessly into the background of the setting and transport readers there and make them FEEL what’s going on.

I want my readers to be in the Model T with Josephine as she drives down the bumpy red dirt roads, just as I was walking with Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind and riding the horse with Sutpen in Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! The details DO matter.

If you are a writer, what do you do to make sure your writing is authentic?

About melindamcguirewrites

The young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. ------ William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Speech, Stockholm, 1950
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4 Responses to Sesame Literary Club Presentation

  1. DM says:

    Like you, I do my research, then use those facts to meld into the story. I love that you’re in a literary group. We have none near us.

    • Donna,
      I am not a member of the literary club, but it was a joy to be invited to come and speak to them about my novel and my research.
      I find that there are times when I go off on the rabbit trail in my research, but I always find so much interesting information that I feel will come out in some work in the future…
      What’s the most interesting thing you’ve found in your research?

  2. A.R.West says:

    I stay on the roads I know. It seems easier to work in what I know then to open myself upto ” That wasnt invented then” or use a process that was only used in certain areas. I enjoy fantasy and science fiction writing as well. They are safe places to work not being attached to our timeline. I bought one of your short stories a month ago. I am starting it tonight from your post I am guessing your book is out. I will have to find a copy.

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